Tuesday, January 19, 2010

the noiseless electricity of thought...

The transcendentalist minister, poet and translator Charles T. Brooks collected the sermons that make up the volume "The Simplicity of Christ's Teachings, set forth in Sermons" in part because he had been persuaded that they " speak forth the words of truth and soberness, in a wholesome way, for an age vibrating uncomfortably between extremes of religious thought and feeling, and yearning, at heart, for that unity in faith and in life, which Unitarianism, in its best and true sense, seems to him to mean"  An excerpt from sermon one:


...The question which Pilate put to Jesus stands there, on the page of Scripture, to this day and forever, as a representation of the attitude of worldly policy towards the greatest interest of man, the living and immortal soul... The common reading of the words hides from our view the mighty and momentous question which lies far under it, — no mere speculative question, but the great, practical question which the Spirit, the ever-living witness and judge, is continually pressing home upon all our hearts, amidst the distractions and delusions of life. The question is, unfortunately, crowded out by the superficial one, " What truth is there that we can be sure of, amidst the endless variety and antagonism of sects and parties and opinions?" and the sceptical one to which that leads, (or which leads to that,) " What is truth, but a glittering and sounding abstraction ? " — but the first of these questions loses its power to delude our minds when we once feel the true meaning and moral of the sublime announcement of Jesus, as King of Truth and of the true, and learn that truth of character (not merely truth of creed) is the test of loyalty to his kingdom ; and, when we once feel this, the second sophistical form of the question " what is truth ? " falls to the ground, as we see that truth, in the Christian religion, is a thing not of the fancy merely, but of the heart, out of which are " the issues of life." Undoubtedly, Christ came into the world to bear witness to certain great truths of fact, — truths for men to believe, in regard to God's government, and man's relations, duties, and destiny, which whoso comes to him will believe ; but no man will come to him, as he himself said, who has not first 1he spirit of truth ; and, to the prior importance and prime excellence of the truthful spirit, he testified, when he said, " Every one that is of the truth heareth my voice ; " that is, every true man is the subject of my kingdom.

" What is truth ? " askest thou, O Pilate ! This is our answer to thee and to all who, like thee, in every age and nation, are repeating the question in their hearts and in their actions, or in their neglect of action : — Truth is the strongest, the only sure thing in the world or the universe; Truth is almighty, for it is God himself, infusing himself into the relations and laws of the universe, which is the emanation of his own being, the expression of his infinite thought. So far, therefore, as a man has, nay, so far as he seeks the truth, the strength of God is his. What though our creeds do but dimly and distantly suggest the actual truth of things ? It is the truth as it dwells in the inward parts, — the truth informing our convictions and characters; in a word, the persuasion that there is such a thing as truth, and that it is the only thing we can live by and should live for; — this is the truth that we want,— this is the truth that really saves the soul, all the croakings of bigotry to the contrary notwithstanding. " What is truth ? " dost thou ask ? Truth is the foundation of right, and it is that which must prevail. " What is truth ?" It is the light, the heat, the lightning, of the world of thought. The atmosphere of society is continually shaken by those thunders of passion, which the dwellers upon the surface of things now tremble at, and then despise; but the noiseless electricity of thought is, meanwhile, at work, cleansing the moral atmosphere, and smiting one after another of the branches of the giant poison-tree, which it will one day smite to the root with a mortal stroke."


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